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Senate Committee on Education Chair Gives Speech on Performance Management System Bills

Senate Committee on Education Chair Jill Tokuda gave the following speech during today’s Session, defending the teacher evaluation and instructional time bills.

Colleagues, I first want to start off by thanking all of you. 

The votes I’ve asked you to take, the measures I’ve asked you to move, have by no means been easy. It’s required a great deal of political will, and at many points trust and faith in myself and our education committee to do what is best for our students. 

That being said, while today we closed the door on our performance management system bills, I continue to stand by the work we started but was unable to finish. While the fear and rhetoric seems to have clouded and distorted the facts surrounding both our evaluation and instructional time bills, let me be clear…these measures put students first and clearly stated…LEARNING MATTERS.

In stating that evaluation systems for teachers, which are already in statute and well within our collective bargaining rights as defined in Chapter 89-9, should have as a component student growth, we are saying…LEARNING MATTERS.

In looking at the definition of instructional time and refocusing the discussion from teacher contract minutes to identifying those teachable moments where students learn best and increase access to those opportunities, we are clearly and definitively saying…LEARNING MATTERS.

While Tuesday had its share of highs and lows, I went home that night reaffirmed that when a legislature takes a stand and makes a bold policy statement like principal evaluations must include student growth, our children win. It took some time, but principal evaluations tied to student achievement as prescribed in statute through Act 51, showed me it works.

When we as a legislature embrace our constitutionally defined role to provide the Board of Education with the power to formulate statewide educational policy, involved parties like our Department, the Board and Unions can and will come together to put students first and make it clear that LEARNING MATTERS.

Many of the targeted emails the unions has asked Windward District teachers to send to me has said, “You are not putting students first when you put teachers last.” While we definitely were not putting teachers last, they have to know that this isn’t all about them.  It has always been, as it always should be, about the kids.

I truly believe that if teachers look beyond the fear and rhetoric, and read the measures we’ve put forward with an open mind, they would clearly see proposals that respect teaching as a profession and in no way infringes upon their collective bargaining rights.  For years, teachers have asked to be treated, respected, and supported as professionals.  Without arguing all the specifics, that is exactly what these bills would have done. 

You know, perhaps I have a conflict of interest.  As a mother of two little boys who will be in our public schools in a few years, I want the very best for them. And I know that I’m not alone.

All of us here wants and expects nothing less than that for everyone’s child.  Which is why when we know that a student in one school receives 75 minutes less, that’s 2 months worth of instruction per year, less than a student in a school down the road, that is not acceptable. That if students in our schools are not making the kind of gains we’d like to see, are not learning, that is not acceptable. And that when business as usual, while comfortable, predictable and in some cases controllable, is not working…that is not acceptable.

So colleagues, when you get asked by constituents why.  Why did you push so hard, why did you even vote to keep those bills moving, why did you put up a fight?   You can hold your head high and say, because what we saw was not acceptable, and by putting students first…we made it clear that LEARNING MATTERS.

Ask Your Senator 2012: Thanks for Asking…

On March 6, 2012, students from Kalaheo High School joined dozens of their peers at the State Capitol to take part in the “Youth Unite for Kick Butts Day Rally.” Students from various schools across the State gathered to get their message against the tobacco industry’s ads targeting our youth heard.

As part of the 2012 Education Week “Ask Your Senator” project, Kalaheo High School students posed several questions to their State Senator, Jill Tokuda (Senate District 24- Kane’ohe, Kane’ohe MCAB, Kailua, and Enchanted Lake), regarding the power of their voice.

Do we (students) have a voice in the Senate? And if we do have a voice, how powerful is our voice? And if our voice is powerful, how can we get our voice out there?”- Kalaheo High School students.

After listening to the students’ question, Senator Jill Tokuda, chair of the Senate Committee on Education, provided a video response to their question.

As part of her response Senator Tokuda assured students, “Absolutely, you have a voice. You have a very powerful voice here in the legislature and out there in the community.”

 

Click here to view Senator Tokuda’s response.

“Ask Your Senator”: State Senators Use New Media to Bring Education Week to the Classroom

Education week at the State Capitol is right around the corner!  It will be held from March 12 to March 16. Organized by the Hawaii State Senate Committee on Education, this interactive week-long celebration honors the achievements and innovative efforts of our local schools, educators, students, and various programs throughout the State, from early childhood to the university system.  The event marks nine years this year.  New to this year’s event is the “Ask Your Senator” project, which Hawaii State Senators take to the classroom.

The concept behind the “Ask Your Senator” project is simple. We want to know what classrooms and students from across the State are thinking by having the students asking Senators questions.

As Chair of the Senate Committee on Education, I am constantly looking for ways to engage our State’s future leaders in the work we do today,” said Senator Jill Tokuda. “Their thoughts, opinions and ideas need to be heard at the legislative level, and it is incumbent on us to look for new and unique ways to communicate with them. Utilizing the tools social media provides to create a virtual civics classroom for our students is just one of the ways we can work with them to make a difference.”

This project provides opportunity for students to lead the discussion, through student driven and student oriented questions. Students may take part in the “Ask Your Senator” project as a group (school or classroom) or as individuals.  The various ways you can participate are listed below. Questions will be collected between March 5th and March 13th.  Once questions are selected, Senators will answer questions through videos which will be published online and sent back to the schools, classrooms, and individual students.

If you are a student and need help coming up with questions to ask, examples of questions could include topics such as: the legislative processes, issues or problems in your community, or general questions about the role of the legislature.

Ways to participate in “Ask Your Senator”

Email- Send your question (s) or video link to scomm@capitol.hawaii.gov.  

Twitter- Use the hashtag #HIAskYourSen

Facebook- There are several ways you can send a message on Facebook:

*  Share your message to the Hawaii Senate Majority Facebook page under the note Section, Ask Your Senator?

*  Share your message with your Senator on their Facebook page.

YouTube- Post a video question from you or your class with the title “Dear Hawaii State Senator, I Have a Question”

Legislature to Discuss Race to the Top Program Status


Senate Committee on Education Chair Jill Tokuda talks about the purpose of today’s, January 25, 2012, upcoming joint Education informational briefing to discuss the progress of Hawaii’s Race to the Top grant status. Chair Tokuda briefly touches upon teacher evaluation, potential legislation, Race to the Top assurances, and Hawaii’s ability to hold on to those funds.

Click here to view the notice of informational briefing.

 

Click here to view the video.

Joint Info Brief Held on DOE’s Special Education Programs

On Monday, November 14, 2011, the Senate and House Committees on Education held a joint informational briefing to receive a comprehensive overview of the State’s special education programs. During the briefing, the Hawaii Department of Education (DOE) and the WestEd Center for Prevention and Early Intervention (CPEI) presented committee members with findings of the State’s special education programs and processes, including mental and behavioral health.

The DOE contracted the WestEd Center for Prevention and Early Intervention (CPEI) to conduct the comprehensive review in order to identify strengths and weaknesses in Hawaii’s special education programs. In a report, which compiles results and recommendations based on findings from the review, WestEd offers a series of recommendations for systemic improvement. These recommendations encompass a range of categories including: improvements to the organization and structure, allocation of recourses and management and accountability, and service provisions and program and student performance outcomes.

“Evaluation of the State’s special education programs and processes is critical to ensuring that we are effective in supporting all of our students’ unique abilities and needs,” said Senate Committee on Education Chair Jill Tokuda. “It is my hope that we can use the findings and recommendations in this report to guide us as we constantly seek to better utilize our resources to build upon our strengths and focus on those areas that need improvement.”

Senator Tokuda has requested the DOE to prepare and share with the committees an outline of the department’s plan, objectives and timeline for the recommended improvements to the State’s special education services.

With WestEd’s help over the next several months, the DOE will work towards creating the systemic change recommended to improve special education programs.

The presentation, “Hawaii Public Schools: Special Education Review” and report, from the informational briefing can be downloaded from the hearing notice at: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2011/hearingnotices/HEARING_EDU-EDN_11-14-11_INFO_.HTM.

WAM & EDU West Oahu Site Visit

On On October 25, 2011, members of the Senate Committees of Ways and Means (WAM) and Education (EDU) conducted joint site visits in the West Oahu area. The sites visited included the University of Hawaii West Oahu Campus and NewTech at Nanakuli High and Intermediate School. Senators received updates on the progress of school construction and educational initiatives.

University of Hawaii West Oahu Campus


While visiting the University of Hawaii (UH) West Oahu Campus, WAM and EDU Committee members were able to tour the school’s construction site. The UH West Oahu Campus development focuses on green planning and design and constructing buildings to meet the U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green standards.

Nanakuli High and Intermediate School


Senators visited Nanakuli High and Intermediate School to receive updates on the school’s New Tech Initiative and their efforts within the Department of Education Zone of School Innovations for Hawaii’s Race to the Top.

The school is part of the New Tech Network, which “works nationwide with schools, districts and communities to develop innovative public high schools.” The program has also garnered public and private support. Public-private partnerships have been formed with organizations such as Kamehameha schools.

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